We need strong leaders in government and industry to salvage our forest industry

Re: The Fall of the Coastal Forest Industry

A half year strike. Tough markets. High stumpage rates. Suffocating government policies. First Nations constraints. Environmentalists. Contractors, loggers and mills out of work. Fingers are pointing and ankles are being bit, but what is the underlying issue?

I can tell you. Crown Land.

The demise began in the 90’s, when governments began to unintentionally withdraw support. Other things became more important. Special interests. Forest protection. Control through rules. Raising taxes. The urban vote. The forest worker was slowly and methodically abandoned by the land owner, the B.C. government.

Some generations-old, B.C.-owned companies are fleeing to the southeast U.S. and elsewhere to invest to remain solvent, because they are welcomed with opened arms by foreign governments. No surprise, the forests there grow on private land. Shame on B.C.!

We are drowning in a sea of trees extending from border to border. It’s there but we can’t get at it. And it’s our own doing. The government has forsaken the most environmentally-friendly major industry on the planet. A renewable resource. We must be out of our collective minds! We would rather save the trees and build with concrete, steel and plastic. Go figure.

I place the blame squarely on the government, which is by extension the people of B.C.

So what’s the solution? Short of an “awakening” (putting what’s right before votes), it is privatizing Crown Land. That isn’t going happen. No government I know of has the moxy to even talk about it.

I hang my head in despair as to what has happened to our industry in 30 years. 2020 hindsight should anger us into action. We need strong leaders in government and industry to salvage our golden industry. We need a locked down working forest and deregulation in exchange for investment! Can we see forward with 2020 Vision?

Otto Schulte, RPF (Ret)

Black Creek

Schulte is a retired former coastal logger, forester, industry executive and industry leader.